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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Bill Clinton Addresses Attacks Against Hillary; First Look At National September 11th Memorial Museum With Michael Bloomberg; Fire Forces 11,000 Plus To Flee San Diego Area; Chelsea Manning May Be Transferred To Civilian Prison For Gender Treatment; "He Was Ready To Go To Prison"

Aired May 14, 2014 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The former president also weighed in on one of the most tragic and ugly events of his wife's tenure as secretary of state, the attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya. And he did so as someone with some experience in the matter. He praised his wife for empanelling a committee to review what went wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They gave 29 recommendations. She took them and started implementing them. And they established the fact that, whether it was right or wrong in the past, secretaries of state never were involved directly in these security decisions. The last time we had one of these things made public was when I did it after the Africa embassy bombings in 1998. And so most Americans don't even know how many American diplomatic personnel were killed when President Bush was president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I'm joined now by former Republican presidential candidate and former senator from the great state of Pennsylvania Rick Santorum, who is out now with a book, "Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting To An America That Works."

Senator Santorum, always good to see you. Thanks for being here. I want to get to your book in a second. But first, what about President Clinton's comments on Benghazi?

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, there is more than one issue involved in Benghazi (AUDIO GAP) Hillary Clinton's role and what she did and what her role was. But the most disconcerting thing is how the White House spun what happened and tried to take what seemed to be a pretty clear understanding of what was going on with the events and spin a very different story to public that was consistent with the Obama campaign narrative, not with the facts.

TAPPER: He invoked President Bush there and how people don't know how many diplomats were killed under Bush's watch. Is that something you think you're going to hear more about?

SANTORUM: Look, I mean, it's a tragedy what happened there. And I appreciate the fact that she empanelled somebody and they made recommendations and that they follow through. And I think that's something that put a check mark in her favor. The question is how they handled the situation at the time and whether in fact it was done correctly and what culpability there is to the people who made those decisions. I still think we're not quite sure how that all played out.

TAPPER: I also want to get your comments on remarks that Governor Chris Christie made at the same event. He said he didn't think Bridgegate was going to have an impact on his political future. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: As far as the impact on my political future, I think it will have none. Because I didn't do anything. I am not the first chief executive - I see Governor Angler down here, I saw President Clinton backstage before -- I am not the first chief executive who had someone their staff do something they didn't know something about, that they disapproved of and later had to fire them. I don't think that it hurt anybody's career,and it is not going to hurt mine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you agree? You think this is going to go away?

SANTORUM: I don't think it will go away. I mean, I think there's always -- the media loves to play with issues that comport with what people think is the personality of the person. You know, do --

TAPPER: This fits into a narrative.

SANTORUM: This fits into the narrative that the media says, oh -- look, I know what this is all about. The media does characterize candidates. And if you find anything that sounds like, this is who he is, then they'll drive it. And so, I suspect they'll continue to drive it. Whether there's anything there or not, time will tell.

TAPPER: Let's talk about your book. "Blue Collar Conservatives." One of the things that I found very interesting you say early on in your book is how six million blue-collar voters did not turn out to vote in November 2012. And obviously, this book is a pitch to them why they should vote Republican, perhaps even for you.

There is a big debate going on right now in the Republican Party. Establishment Republicans versus Tea Party Republicans. You're kind of one of each, but I'm wondering where does this blue collar message fit? A lot of people in this town, as you know, think that the Tea Party nominates candidates who can't win in November.

SANTORUM: Yes, I think the reason I wrote this book is because I think it's actually a unifying set of principles for both sides to get excited about. I think establishment Republicans realize we have a problem across American where areas where we should be winning, like in Ohio and in Michigan and places where the economy is not strong, where the Obama administration's energy policies and manufacturing policies have hurt workers there. Yet they're not voting for us. They're not coming out to vote. Or if they are, they're voting for the other side.

So they realize we have a problem there. I don't think they have any clue how to fix it. And then the Tea Party realizes, that's who they are. These are conservatives who don't think the establishment really understands their problems.

And so, really this is an attempt to put an agenda together that the not just pro-growth, which I know the establishment Republicans love, and I do, too. It's also pro-worker. If we don't have a pro- growth/pro-worker platform that communicates to the average American, then I don't think there is much hope for us winning national elections.

TAPPER: You say very nice things about Mitt Romney as a person and as a success in business, but you say he was the wrong person to be representing --

SANTORUM: Which is what I said obviously when I ran in 2012.

TAPPER: You did. But you're saying it even now is my point!

SANTORUM: Well, I believe he represented what I think is the wrong projection of what the Republican Party is. The Republican Party isn't Wall Street financiers and someone who supported government-run healthcare on some level. And that was the wrong approach at that time. And I think we need somebody with a different approach in the future.

TAPPER: Senator Rick Santorum. The book is "Blue Collar Conservatives." Please say hi to your wife, Karen, for me. I appreciate it. Good to see you.

Coming up on THE LEAD, from twisted steel to flattened fire trucks to an unopened letter that fell from the sky. The National 9/11 Museum is set to open its doors to families. For some, it's opening a wound. I got on of the first looks inside with former mayor Michael Bloomberg. And I asked him if it strikes the right tone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In national news, rising from what was once known as ground zero. And in the shadow of the new sparkling World Trade Center is the new National September 11th Memorial Museum. It will be opened to 9/11 families and dedicated tomorrow. Will opened to the public on May 21st.

Now, almost 13 years in the making, it was a daunting task for organizers who has to balance the crippling emotion of the day with the chaotic events that unfolded, all while delivering the facts. Recognizing the evil behind it, how it continues to change our world and the way we live and move around and communicate everyday.

I was lucky enough to get one of the first looks inside with a special tour guide, the chairman of the museum, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Where once 110 stories of Twin Towers reached out to the heavens, today, cascading water falls into the void that remains. This week, 12-and-a-half years on from that horrific day, the National 9/11 Memorial Museum will be dedicated and open to the public on May 21.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: What you have here are pictures of the recovery.

TAPPER: Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is now chairman of the memorial. He gave us a private tour.

BLOOMBERG: As you go down, every - there are lots of little stories of people who - they came for rescue, they stayed for the recovery. And sadly, a lot of them got sick from what they had to breathe and have since died or are in the process of battling cancer.

TAPPER: Built with private and public funds, the mostly underground museum takes you through, step by step from the planning of the attack to the years-long recovery efforts. You can see the massive foundation walls that once held up the towers. A fire engine, the front of which is twisted beyond recognition. Scraps of what survived from inside the offices. And the steel beam cross that became a symbol of hope in the midst of despair.

There is also a short film titled "The Rise of Al Qaeda." It came under fire recently from inter-faith leaders, who said it did not draw a clear enough distinction between practicing, innocent Muslims and the Islamist extremists of al Qaeda.

BLOOMBERG: I looked very carefully at the film before we put it up and then afterwards when people raised the issue. We have a responsibility to describe what happened. There is no question that these terrorists evoked God. You could hear the tape recording on the airplane.

We have to be very careful. You cannot use this as an excuse to do exactly what they wanted us to do. They wanted us to walk away from giving people a right to practice their religion.

TAPPER: But you have a responsibility to the facts as well --

BLOOMBERG: Yes. This is a museum. And the facts are the facts. To take and brand a billion people for responsibility of what a handful of people -- is ridiculous.

TAPPER: It was a harrowing, traumatic day for millions of Americans. At the time, Bloomberg was a candidate for mayor.

BLOOMBERG: And I was reading a newspaper and having a cup of coffee. And somebody said, oh, look at the television that was on. A small plane hit the World Trade Center. And I looked up. And I am a pilot. You could see the gash all across the building. And I said that is not a small plane. That had to be a big plane.

TAPPER: The primary was pushed a few weeks. And then the general election. Did you ever think, wow this is a bigger challenge than I thought?

BLOOMBERG: Your first thought was for the people. All you could then think of is, my god, there are people in those buildings. And somebody said to me, there will be a lot of firefighters killed in that building.

TAPPER: Did you ever get concerned in the tension between liberty and security, did you ever get concerned that maybe things swung too much to the security side of things?

BLOOMBERG: No. I don't remember doing that. Security is one of those things that you never know whether you have too much, but sometimes you can find out you had too little. I would rather err on the other side.

TAPPER: The remains of more than 40 percent of those killed on 9/11 have still not been identified. Behind this wall, the medical examiner's office will continue the daunting work for the families. On Saturday, the remains were taken solemnly through Manhattan to the memorial. A move that some 9/11 families are unhappy about for any number of reasons.

SALLY REGENHARD, 9/11 VICTIM FAMILY MEMBER: It's barbaric. It's Inhumane. It's really un-American.

TAPPER: Mayor Bloomberg disagrees.

BLOOMBERG: But this is where they belong. This is where it all started. I can't think of a better place to have the office of the chief medical examiner's laboratory.

We can't brink the people back. But to the extent that you can assure the survivors that we did everything we could to be respectful of those we lost, think that is our obligation.

TAPPER: What are the hopes for this museum? What do you want visitors to come away with?

BLOOMBERG: I want the families to say this is a place to grieve. But the vast bulk of the people here will not be families. They will be people from around the world, and you want them to understand the terrible tragedy that 3,000 people were taken from us by a handful of people who didn't like our freedoms. And that we cannot let that happen again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Our thanks to Mayor Bloomberg. Again, the museum will be open to 9/11 families tomorrow and President Obama will be there for the museum's official dedication.

Coming up next, back to the breaking news, 11,000 people forced to flee wildfires in San Diego. We will have another update from the danger zone coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. All hour, we've been following this breaking news out of the San Diego area for you. Several fires all at once forcing more than 11,000 people to evacuate. San Diego County, thousands of homes are being threatened by these fast moving flames nearly 2-1/2 square miles have been scorched so far. Legions of firefighters, about 350 at last count are battling to contain these fires. It's also probably the worst day ever to visit Legoland in Carlsbad. The theme park had to be evacuated earlier today. We'll continue to stay abreast of the fires in San Diego County.

Coming up next, how a Rubik's cube led to the biggest intelligence leak in modern U.S. history. Journalist, Glen Greenwald talks about the first time he met Edward Snowden after months of ignoring his e- mails.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The World Lead now. It's not every day that Chelsea Manning gets good news. The one-time Army intelligence analyst, formerly known as Private Bradley Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence for one of the biggest security leaks in American history after funnelling hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to the web site, Wikileaks.

In August, Manning asked the military for transgender hormone therapy. Now Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has approved a request for the Army to try to work out a plan that would get Manning into a civilian prison where she could get that treatment though no decision has yet been made.

I want to bring in one of Chelsea Manning's most notable supporters, Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist for First Look Media, who is reporting on Edward Snowden and the NSA won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Guardian" newspaper. He is also the author of a new book, "No Place To Hide, Edward Snowden, The NSA, and The U.S. Surveillance."

Glenn, good to see you as always. Thank you so much for being here. Great to see you. A 35-year sentence for Private Chelsea Manning. Is that what you think the future looks like hypothetically for Edward Snowden where he to come back to the U.S.?

GLENN GREENWALD, FIRST LOOK MEDIA: Sure. That's one of the reasons why he won't. The U.S. government has been unprecedentedly vindictive about punishing whistle blowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden faces at least that much, if not more were he to return.

TAPPER: You would -- a fascinating detail in your book, at the top of the book. You spent months blowing him off. You were getting these e-mails from Cincinnatus begging you to get encryption technology. Tell us about when you finally met Edward Snowden in Hongkong. He was playing with the Rubik's cube. That was the James Bond tip-off. What did you think of him initially? What was your impression? GREENWALD: Well, the impression that I had formed and we all formed impressions of people when we talk to them online was that he was probably in his 60s or 70s. He had access to this extraordinarily high number of high level documents. He had political ideas. He was adamant he wanted to be publicly identified. He would go to prison for the rest of his life. I figured he wouldn't do that if he wasn't near the end of his life and had been around for so long and become that disillusioned. When I saw that he was actually 29 and he looked five years younger at least. It was incredibly disorienting.

TAPPER: When you say, he was disillusioned? By what? What was his motivation for doing this?

GREENWALD: I think principally he had discovered, and this is somebody who went into the U.S. government with an extremely positive view of the role that his government plays in the world. He enlisted in the Army, went to Iraq then went to work for NSA and CIA. He discovered there was a system of surveillance that nobody knew about. He was really disturbed by what that meant for democracy.

TAPPER: Perhaps the biggest revelation in the book. Internal documents from the NSA, the British version, collect it all. A new collection posture. Explain the significant of this slide and this chapter.

GREENWALD: The significance is the primary defense of the NSA and the U.S. government is that you need not worry. This is a very discriminating targeted system of spying, aimed at monitoring the communications of terrorists and people that pose a threat. That's what they say in public. What they say in private is radically different. Their goal is to turn the internet into a system of ubiquitous, systemless surveillance where entire populations are put under a surveillance net where they collect and know all communications.

TAPPER: You say in four to six weeks you're going to have a big scoop talking about who the targets are. I know you won't reveal the scoop now. You write in the book how a lot of the targets for surveillance are companies that the U.S. is competing with. The U.S. companies are competing with. Is that kind of where you're going with this?

GREENWALD: There's a lot of surveillance that we have already revealed about spying on oil companies --

TAPPER: Foreign oil companies.

GREENWALD: Right. It's clearly intended for an economic motive. Some of the surveillance is something that they have long denied and accused the Chinese of doing. The questions left to be answered is who, within the United States, individually, are the people they've targeted as people who ought to have their e-mails read and telephone calls listened to. Activists? Dissidents and critics of U.S. foreign policy or other kinds of people?

We know already is that they do things like collect the pornographic web site activities and sexual chats of people they deem to be radicalizers. Even though they're not involved with terrorist organizations or plotting terrorist attacks. They target people who visit the Wikileaks web site or are involved in anonymous. This is the kind of activity that made surveillance in the '60s and '70s so controversial.

TAPPER: We only have a little bit of time for a lighter question, Sony just bought the rights to the book so, Glenn Greenwald, who is playing you? Who is playing Edward Snowden in the movie version?

GREENWALD: There are all kinds of speculation. I'm going to leave that to Twitter for the most part the leading names that I've seen are Jared Leto for Edward Snowden and Edward Norton has been mentioned a lot for me, but that is definitely very low on my list of priorities.

TAPPER: All right, Glenn Greenwald, thank you so much. Make sure to follow me on Twitter, @jaketapper. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. Right now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer who is next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Mr. Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, thanks very much.